We parked above the lowest cloud layer in the Black Rock parking lot, near the summit of Linville Peak on Grandfather Mountain. And even though we could look out to a soft sea of cloud layer below us, there were still grey clouds moving fast and threatening from overhead. With the threat of rain but no electricity (lightning bolts), we prepare for the day like any other. Well, not like any other exactly. This is the fourth day of the Grandfather Challenge, so in addition to the itinerary being a step up in difficulty we are also transferring greater responsibility to the group- their navigation, time management, hydration, and communication are all elements that we have been preparing them to take-over.
We move over the terrain really efficiently, even the more technical hand-line and ladder sections leading up to McCrae Peak. But just as we top-out on the ladders, the drizzle comes. Drizzle becoming ever more steady turns to rain, and before you know it saturation sets it. Down some hand lines, up "The Chute" and still raining. Over Attic Window Peak, into Calloway Gap and still raining. Eat lunch, ascend Calloway Peak and, you guessed it, still raining. If you've never seen it, its difficult to describe the experience of seeing a group of students take on adversity from all angles and maintain their resilient spirit. Sure there were moments of silence and low moral, but never did I see negativity deeply set-in. It's humbling... to see a group rise above it's circumstances with such poise, even when there is true reasonable cause for negativity.
It is fitting that despite the sogginess, the lasting sentiment to this group's Grandfather Challenge is triumph. This is what AML serving the Jason Project is all about- facilitating an experience that allows students to rise above their circumstances. We're privileged and proud to serve these students.